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Conor Daly Wins Third Star Mazda Race In A Row at ORP Starting from the outside of the front row on the .626-mile O'Reilly Raceway Park oval, Conor Daly jumped into the lead on Lap 1 and led the entire race by a substantial margin to score his third Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear victory in a row driving the #22 Juncos Racing / INDECK / The College Network / Merchant Services Ltd. / Tom Lange Co. Mazda. His race was a picture-perfect demonstration of a rising open-wheel star hitting his stride, never putting a wheel wrong, and bringing the crowd charging into Victory Lane as he completed his final lap. Finishing second was pole-sitter Mikael Grenier of Quebec City in the #17 Andersen Racing / Slow Cow / April Super Flow / NAPA Auto Parts / HS Telecom / Desharnais Mazda, followed by Brazilian racer Joao Victor Horto in his #18 Team Apex / Wabash Capital Investments Mazda. Texan Rusty Mitchell, driving the #66 Mitchell Motorsports / Motorola / Petro Comm Mazda, qualified 5th and finished 4th after a mistake-free race.
"It wasn't as easy at it looked, but O'Reilly Raceway Park has done a lot for my career tonight," said Indianapolis native Daly, who graduated from his local high school on May 14. "Anybody who thinks driving open wheel cars in an oval race has no idea what they are talking about. It’s so easy to make a mistake, and so difficult not to make one. The Juncos Racing team has been doing a phenomenal job and giving me great cars. I love ovals and the next race on June 19 with the IndyCar series is Iowa Speedway. I qualified 8th there last year and finished 2nd after an epic battle with Peter Dempsey, who is now working with the Juncos team and helping me with my season. I'm fortunate, like Rick Mears said, to 'be in the right place at the right time with the right people and equipment.' I like this feeling of winning, and I'm going to do my very best to keep on doing it."
Some drama was added to the race when four cars who qualified well were penalized and moved back on the starting grid due to 'technical infractions' discovered in post-race inspections. The principal victims of this situation were French racer Tristan Vautier, who was moved back from the sharp end of the grid to 11th, and then worked his way back up to 6th driving the #38 Andersen Racing / Moulin TP / Cecibon / Circuit du Laquais Mazda. Also Scandinavian racer Anders 'The Viking' Krohn who was dropped to 10th on the grid and finished 5th in his #47 Andersen Racing / Norse Cutting & Abandonment / Trallfa / Colosseum Mazda. The heartbreak story of the race was young Venezuelan racer Carlos Linares who stunned the big guns by setting the fastest time in Friday practice, but qualified his repaired car 8th on the grid only to find the wall in Turn 3 on Lap 25 for the race's single full-course yellow after looking very racy in the early stages.
||INDECK, The College Network, Merchant Services Ltd., Tom Lang Co.|
||Slow Cow, April Super Flow, NAPA Auto Parts, HS Telecom, Desharnais|
||Wabash Capital Investments|
||Motorola, Petro Comm.|
||Norse Cutting and Abandonment, Trallfa Industries, Colosseum|
||Moulin TP, Cecibon, Circuit du Laquais, Fontanel|
||Connor De Phillippi
||Mazdaspeed Motorsports, Skip Barber|
||GP Global Precast|
||Wabash Capital Investments|
||Miller Milling, Red Line Oil|
As a result of his third victory in a row, Conor Daly expands his lead in the championship points battle to 29 over Mikael Grenier (171 vs 142). Anders Krohn is a close third with 139 points, followed by Joao Horto (128) and a tie for 5th with both Tristan Vautier and MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder Scholarship Winner Connor De Phillippi (#11 JDC Motorsports / MAZDASPEED Motorsports / Skip Barber Mazda) at 124. It should be noted that the Star Mazda Championship awards 44 points for a win, and awards points down through 15th place, so with nine races remaining in the 2010 season, the championship battle is still wide open.
The next race, Round 5 of the 2010 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, takes place on June 19, with the IZOD IndyCar series at Iowa Speedway. Conor Daly's driver coach, Peter Dempsey, won that race last year, with Daly finishing 2nd. Returning drivers with experience on the Iowa Speedway's 1-mile oval include David Ostella (#16 AIM Autosport / GP Global Precast Mazda) who finished 3rd, Rusty Mitchell who finished 4th, Anders Krohn who finished 6th, Brazilian Caio Lara (#19 JDC Motorsports / MLD / ATW Mazda) who finished 9th and Jorge Goncalvez (#9 Team Apex / Wabash Capital Investments Mazda) who completed only two laps and finished 21st.
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